tv ABC World News With David Muir ABC May 22, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
tonight on "world news," sudden impact. nearly two dozen tornadoes carve a path of death and destruction. the wild weather showing no mercy. and there's more violent storms on the way. and the growing flood threat this evening. not just along the mississippi, but in the west, where they are bracing for a major melt. family first. one of the republicans' biggest hopes bows out, giving his reason tonight. and worried party leaders asking, who can we get to run against president obama? false prophet. the man who spent his life savings saying the world was ending. jeered when the time came. so, what's he saying now? we ask him tonight. and, using your voice. graduation day across this country. inspired by the young woman who survived one nerve-wracking moment, to our moment, turning the tables on the graduates.
and good evening on this sunday night. the skies darkened, the winds howled, and this was the scene in tornado alley, as the funnel clouds descended. after the worst april on record for tornados in this country, the violent storms returned this weekend, more than 20 twisters reported now across four states. the small town of reading, kansas, taking a direct hit. the local newspaper there saying not a single inch was spared. 200 buildings were destroyed. even a lunch spot that had been called, before this all the miracle cafe, tonight, is destroyed. millions of americans now on alert. tornado watches are posted from texas to michigan. and clayton sandell leads us off. >> reporter: spring has been a season for the record books. >> go that way! go that way! go that way! >> reporter: one twister tore apart the small town of reading, kansas. one man was killed. >> other than that, all the medical issues we've dealt with to this point have been stress-related from the aftermath. >> reporter: the stress and
shock of seeing more than a dozen homes destroyed and hundreds of others damaged. reporters given a tour of the destruction today came across the battered but still standing miracle cafe. >> we'll get it cleaned up. we'll get it back. if the building's gone then i'll rebuild. >> reporter: today, in minneapolis, a tornado blew through nads neighborhoods, toppling trees. one person was killed when a tree crashed into a van. other funnel clouds were spotted in missouri and nebraska, adding to an already unprecedented twister tally. 875 tornadoes in april alone have killed 361 people. in topeka, kansas, hail the size of golf balls pounded the pavment. >> many areas will get hit with severe weather repeatedly here for the next several days. >> reporter: while out west, there is growing concern over the record amounts of snow, dwarfing the plows trying to clear it. across a huge swath of landscape, snow pack levels are greater than 150% above normal. a nightmare flooding threat as it all starts to melt.
>> as we progress into late spring and early summer, that's not a good recipe and we will likely see flooding into the lower terrain as we approach the month of june. >> reporter: and tonight, wind, hail and tornadoes are forecast from north to south, as yet another town picks up the pieces. clayton sandell, abc news. >> and as clayton showed us there, the little town of reading, kansas, a scene of devastation this evening. and justin robinson from our affiliate kmbc in kansas city is in reading, at church where families sought cover. justin? >> trees down, homes destroyed. that's what many people are coming back to in this small town of reading in kansas. take a look here in the background. you can see what used to be a big grain silo until the tornado came through and destroyed it. with all this damage we see in the community, it's hard to believe there were so few injuries, but one reason is because they had such an early alert about the storms coming through. many people were able to go to this church over here, one of only two churches in town, the only sure of with a basement.
at least 40 to 50 people gathered in that basement as the storms came through, keeping them safe. david? >> justin robinson, thank you. kmbc tonight. well, from the sudden impact of the tornados to the slow motion disaster along the mississippi river that continues. tonight, a new concern about the levees that have been holding back the water for days now. what happens if they become too saturated? could they give way? yunji de nies is in louisiana tonight. yunji, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, david. we are here in louisiana, and this is a lot of the flood water that has come up here along this levee. it's normally dry right here. they've put in some rock to patch the problem, because erosion is a big issue. but this is just a temporary fix. it's not just the level of flooding here that's worrisome, but also how long all of this excess water may stay. >> the waters didn't come up fast and it's not going to go down fast. >> reporter: the levees have are meant to hold back a surge of water, but they're not meant to sit and soak. the longer they do, the weaker they get.
>> the longer it sits, the dirk soaks it in. and of course, as you get rainfall events throughout the summer, that just, again, magnifies the problem. >> reporter: congressman jeff landry showed us a temporary fix. stone poured over sliding dirt. >> as the water started to rise, we didn't have time to put those projects together, so we just came in and feel quite certain these types of fixes will hold. for right now. >> reporter: the army corps of engineers is now monitoring more than 900 miles of levees, from louisiana up through illinois. a task that requires an epic amount of manpower. typically in new orleans alone, 15 engineers inspect the levees, but today, 120 inspectors are on the job. >> they go up and down the levees 24 and 7 to make sure, again, that we don't have a compromise in the system. >> reporter: and the only way to do that, really, is with your eyes. >> is with your eyes, that's right. >> reporter: there's no technology -- >> not that i'm aware of.
>> reporter: it is an incredible job, and, of course, david, the fear is that if any of those inspectors miss a problem or if any of the temporary fixes don't work, these levees could fail, flooding thousands. it is a risk that will be here until this water goes down. david? >> but it all comes down to the human eye. as you point out. yunji, thank you. and to another side tonight of nature's fury. look at these images from iceland this evening. a volcano erupting. shooting ash 12 miles high. iceland did shut its main airport but the kind of global travel disruptions that occurred when that other volcano erupted last year, they are not expected this time. back here in this country and now to a break in a case that's stumped los angeles police for nearly two months now. who was responsible for a vicious attack that marred what was supposed to be a day of pure joy? the first baseball game of the season at dodger stadium. a young father attacked. and tonight, an arrest. police have taken a suspect into custody in the brutal beating of
giants fan brian stowe. authorities believe the suspect is one of two alleged attackers in the assault at dodger stadium, which left that 42-year-old father of two in a medically induced coma. that young father was on his way back to his car following the game, when witnesses say he was jumped from behind. >> two guys came out of nowhere. both of them pushed brian from behind, he never saw them coming, and brian fell forward and hit his head on the concrete. he was immediately knocked unconscious. >> reporter: the man arrested just today reportedly matches one of two descriptions, put out by the police. the reward fund has grown to more than $200,000, and the lapd was so determined to make an arrest, that they put up 200 billboards, bearing the suspect's sketches, throughout los angeles. los angeles police say they have other people in custody who are being questioned this evening. the man at the center of another court case, this one in new york, has apparently taken his own life. joseph brooks was an award-winning song writer known for the 1970s hit "you light up my life."
but when he died he was facing trial, accused of luring women to movie auditions, where he was then accused of sexually abusing them. we're going to turn now to politics this evening and the bombshell in the president's race from indiana's governor, mitch daniels. many republicans thought he was the best bet, but tonight, he's joined the ranks of would be candidates announcing they're not running. so, who will, against president obama? here's david kerley. >> reporter: mitch daniels says it is family first, and his wife and four daughters vetoed a presidential run. "i find myself caught between two duties. i love my country. i love my family more." a disappointment for prominent republicans. laura bush had called daniels' wife, encouraging a run. his exit is likely to help tim pawlenty who will announce tomorrow morning that he's running. and how strange is this? mike huckabee interviewing pawlenty about whether he with win early primaries. >> you have to do well or win one of those early states. and i don't think it's one in particular, but you have to win one of them pretty quickly.
>> reporter: mitt romney, leading in the polls and the most recognizable candidate, was in south carolina this weekend, where he performed poorly in 2008. >> i don't think our president respects the states like i do. >> reporter: recent polls show that nearly half of republican voters are not happy with their potential candidates. but comedians are. >> the republicans are really scrambling now. they're really backs to the wall, looking for a guy to lose to obama. they just don't -- >> reporter: newt gingrich, whose first campaign week was a wreck, after he criticized the republican medicare plan, also had to deal with revelations of a half million dollar bill for jewelry. >> $500,000 at tiffany's? there's a simple explanation. the guy clearly buys his engagement rings in bulk. >> reporter: this morning, gingrich said the bill has been paid. >> we owe nothing. >> what did you buy? >> we owe nothing. well, it's -- it's my private life. >> reporter: all this has led prominent republicans to look for a wild card candidate, trying to convince either chris christie, the new jersey
governor, or former governor of florida jeb bush, to make a run. so far, it appears their answer is the same as they gave earlier this year. no thank you. david? >> all right, david kerley, thank you. our senior washington editor rick klein joining us now from washington. rick, as you heard david report there, there is a growing concern for many republicans. you know the calendar better than any of us. do they usually have greater numbers of leading candidates by now? >> reporter: they do. this has been remarkable. and that what's really interesting is, this door is wide open, yet nobody seems to be wanting to walk through it. the upshot is the field is basically frozen in place for the next couple of months. republicans are going to be stuck with the candidates they've got, whether they like it or not. but speaking of the calendar, look to the fall for another boom for someone that's got more star power. there's just too much angst out there in the republican field for there not to be an increase in interest and another run at one of these folks possibly running for president in 2012. >> all right. we know you will be watching.
our senior political editor rick klein tonight. thanks. meantime, president obama just days after aiming harsh words at israel, today, stood before u.s. supporters of that country. israel's prime minister has criticized the president's big middle east speech last week. but the president today stood by his remarks that angered the prime minister, his declaration that peace talks with the palestinians should be based largely on israel's 1967 borders. >> what i did on thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. i've done so because we can't afford to wait another decade. or another two decades. or another three decades. to achieve peace. >> president obama just today. and now to images from the middle east tonight, and tense moments for about a half dozen foreign diplomats in yemen, including the u.s. ambassador. they were evacuated by helicopter after being trapped inside a foreign mission, after gunmen took to the streets demanding that yemen's president stay in office. tonight, the president is still refusing there to resign.
in syria, and least 44 people have been killed this weekend in the government's crackdown on dissent. some of those victims died when government forces fired into a procession, mourning protesters who had been killed on friday. nearly 900 people have now died in syria since the uprising there began. and it's been a long day for some crew members of the space shuttle. a bolt floated off into space, in fact, there it is right there, circled on the screen, as the astronauts tried to fix a joint on solar panels of the international space station. the space walk lasted more than eight hours. the sixth-longest in history. of course, commander kelly on board, his wife congresswoman giffords, recovering back here at home. and still ahead on "world news," what happens when the disaster doesn't happen? this man spent his savings to warn the rest of us that the world was ending. tonight, how does he explain himself? also, how did a campaign to help save the orangutans turn into a campaign against the girl scout cookies? and later here, graduation day and a woman that faces an especially nerve-wracking speech. and we try to turn the tables on
the graduates. coming up. especially nerve-wracking speech. and we try to turn the tables on the graduates. coming up. i noticed i was having trouble. climbing the stairs, working in the garden, painting. my doctor suggested spiriva right then. announcer: spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled maintenance treatment for copd, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. i love what it does. it opens up the airways. announcer: spiriva does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. stop taking spiriva and call your doctor right away if your breathing suddenly worsens, your throat or tongue swells, you get hives, have vision changes or eye pain, or have problems passing urine. tell your doctor if you have glaucoma, problems passing urine, or an enlarged prostate, as these may worsen with spiriva. also, discuss the medicines you take, even eye drops. side effects include dry mouth, constipation, and trouble passing urine.
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of disaster is now the disaster. and so ron claiborne has the story of one man who spent nearly all of his money to warn of that impending disaster, and ron asks him, how does he now explain himself? >> reporter: at 6:00 p.m., robert fitzpatrick looked at his watch, waited, and nothing happened. >> we're still alive! >> reporter: as some in the crowd jeered, fitzpatrick looked stunned. >> i don't understand what happened. this is the year. all the calculations indicate this is the year. >> reporter: those calculations were made by this man. radio e valvangelist harold cam, who claimed he had unlocked codes in the bible. >> i am utterly, absolutely, absolutely convinced it is going to happen. >> reporter: today, a spokesman for camping said he is home, in seclusion, and according to his wife, he's mystified that his doomsday prediction did not come true. meanwhile, the internet was brimming with mockery of camping and his followers, some posting photos of empty clothes, ridiculing the rapture that was
supposed to have occurred on doomsday, when a select few christians would be ascended to heaven, leaving their clothing behind. fitzpatrick, who had thought he would be spending his first day in heaven, was back in his new york city home, watering his plants, reading his bible. >> part of me was excited with anticipation for what i hoped would be coming for me. and part of me was in dread of what would be coming for those who are not saved. >> reporter: fitzpatrick, a retired transit worker, spent most of his savings, $140,000, on posters warning of the apocalypse. he says he'll leave them up. >> the warning on those signs is still valid. judgment day is coming. >> and so ron claiborne is with us now. he lost nearly all of his money and you told me he's simply pushed off the date? >> reporter: you saw there, he was clearly shaken that doomsday, judgment day, did not
occur yesterday. he went home, he thought about it some more, now he says his faith is restored, as strong as it ever was and he believes this will happen, it didn't happen yesterday, but will happen this year. he believes it will happen in 2011. >> all right, ron claiborne with us tonight. thank you for asking the tough questions to him. and one thing that we do know is ending the oprah winfrey show. she has three shows left this week. but where will her dream team be? dr. phil, dr. oz and suze orman will be right here on "world news." tomorrow night, suze orman and i talk a walk in times square, and look what happened. we were swarmed with americans from all over the country what was the number one question for her? plus, her new life lesson after oprah. that's coming up tomorrow, right here on "world news with diane sawyer." and when we come back here tonight, how's this for a project to earn a girl scout badge? the campaign to stop the girl scout cookies. why are they so upset? great job. ok, now let's get ready for the ball... here it comes... here you go. good catch. perfect! alright now for the best part.
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orangutans and how palm oil plantations have pushed the primates to the brink of exting by destroying their habitat. you can find palm oil in 10% of the products on your supermarket shelf. >> i remember, my mom brought anything home with palm oil, i'll like, mom, you're contributing to deforestation, how could you do this? >> reporter: so, you can imagine how crummy they felt when they discovered the 200 million boxes of cookies the organization sells each year were part of the problem. >> i think when we both found out that palm oil was in the cookies, we were shocked. i was sad. i burst into tears. >> reporter: what started out as a project about palm oil and primates ended up turning up the heat on the cookies, all of which contain palm oil. the girls not only stopped selling them, they went all the way up the food chain at girl scouts usa to try to convince the organization to switch to a more environmentally friendly alternative, like canola oil. >> it's funny. part of the girl scout law is to make the world a better place. and they're not giving us the opportunity, i guess, to
completely make the world a better place. >> reporter: girl scouts usa says it is too late to modify next year's recipe. but it's constantly changing, and, in fact, they altered the recipe five years ago by adding palm oil. >> palm oil, because of its naturally trans fat free qualities is a healthier and better choice than anything we've used previously. >> reporter: the girls aren't giving up. they have a meeting at girl scouts headquarters on tuesday. and they ultimately did earn their bronze award, but as you can imagine, it was bittersweet. linsey davis, abc news, new york. >> well put, linsey. and coming up, the nerve wracking moment for one young commencement speaker. and what happened when we tried to turn the tables on the graduates. are choosing advil. here's one story. i'm keith baraka and i'm a fire fighter. it's an honor to be a fire fighter. my job involves life or death situations and it's very physically demanding. if i'm sore, i have a headache, i'm not at my best. i've tried store brands.
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alexis wilson had to give the speech this week to welcome the other speaker, waiting in the wings. >> just in case you have not heard, we have a very special commencement speaker. >> reporter: their high school won a competition, and the president was waiting to go on. >> once i got the first part down, the rest of it just kind of flowed. >> reporter: when we asked who she was trying to impress, it wasn't the president. she was trying to get her father to smile. >> to my parents, i thank you the most. to my father, i thank you for having the same blank expression on your face as the day was born. >> reporter: did she finally get that smile? >> just a little, but i wouldn't say he did a lot of expression. >> reporter: and that pressure of speaking before a home crowd -- i can relate to that. asked back to my alma mater, just today. ithaca college. that college tv studio. yes, i was the freshman anchor with braces. and there have been so many lessons learned since. among them, the power of one person's voice. i shared the story of the young
woman standing in tahrir square in egypt, as president mubarak's men charged in the square on horse back. >> she had used twitter and facebook to help add to that revolution taking place in that square. i thought -- the power of one young woman's voice. hoping these graduates will use their voice. and before we left -- the producer asked me, bring back some of your speech. and i thought, why would i bring back more of my voice? why don't i bring back yours? it was really something. they earned their moment. and thank you, ithaca. alexis there, i'm sure your father was smiling at least on the inside. diane's here tomorrow night. good night.
>> the los angeles police department has arrested a suspect in the senseless and brutal attack that occurred here at dodger stadium on opening day. >> alan: an early morning raid in los angeles and the arrest of a suspect in the bryan stow beating case. first, tiny infant snatched from her crib overnight. a massive air and ground search is underway in a small east bay community. lillian kim there is with more on the case of a missing four-month-old baby. >> reporter: investigators are searching the home where the baby was reportedly snatched. five other people live in the house, the parents and